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QSR Brands Win Over Sports Fans with Giveaways

January 25, 2023

The Quick Serve Restaurant (QSR) category looms large in the sponsorship universe, namely in the promotion/sweepstakes arena. McDonald’s dominates the space with over 60–primarily across major pro sports and colleges–followed by Chick-fil-A (36), Papa Johns (34), Dunkin’ (28), and Wendy’s (28). Let’s take a closer look at some of their latest activations, designed to woo faithful sports fans with tasty fast-food fare.

McDonald’sThe beloved home of the Golden Arches partners with all major US pro sports and some college teams, often in the name of delish giveaways. A common thread? Fans have to download the McDonald’s app in some instances to grab a bite of the action.

When the opposing team misses a field goal inside M&T Stadium, Baltimore Ravens fans can redeem a free 6-piece Chicken McNugget the next day. On the ice, the chain’s huge NHL presence includes the “McNugget Minute,” where enthusiasts across the league can cash in on the same Chicken McNugget deal when a home team scores in the last minute of a regulation period.

Mickey D’s also offers the free 6-piece Chicken McNugget to Cleveland Guardians fans when the team steals a base at home–the same prize Portland Traiblazers’ fans can grab when the team scores 100 points in an NBA matchup. Meanwhile, when DC United forces a shutout in MLS, fans can bag two Happy Meals for the price of one.

At the collegiate level, fans in attendance at an Illinois Fighting Illini football home game can text “McDouble” for a free McDouble burger when the team forces a three-and-out. Although these prizes differ in terms of what needs to happen on the field of play for fans to win their prizes, there is one crucial commonality between all of them. Fans have to download the McDonald’s App to redeem their prizes.

Chick-fil-AThe Atlanta-based chicken sandwich titan launched the “Chick-fil-A Fowl Shot” promotion at Utah Jazz home games, where attending fans can win free chicken when an opposing player misses two free throws in the fourth quarter–an offer now run by several other professional and collegiate basketball teams. The chain also maintains a sizeable presence in MLB with activations like “Chick-fil-A Tuesdays,” a promotion at Washington Nationals Tuesday home games, where fans in the Metro DC area receive a free reward through the brand’s app.

Papa JohnsWhen the Washington Wizards score 115 or more points, fans get 50% off regular-price pizzas the next day, with a specific promo code visible on the jumbotron–a deal also available to Orlando Magic and LSU Tigers football fans when their teams are victorious. Washington Capitals fans also get half-price pies when the team score five or more goals during a home game, as do the Tampa Bay Rays’ faithful when their team scores six runs at home.

Dunkin’At the start of the 2022 NFL Draft, Dunkin’ gave fans a chance to win a year of free Dunkin’, an autographed Daniel Jones Jersey, and two tickets to a 2022 Giants game if they correctly predicted top picks. Meanwhile, the NY Mets, NY Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Cleveland Guardians gave fans a chance to win Dunkin’ gift cards if they retweeted designated Dunkin’-sponsored tweets last season.

Wendy’sFans in the stands at Denver Nuggets home games can get free Wendy’s when the team notches a double-double, while Milwaukee Bucks fans can grab a free small Frosty when they win at home. When the Orlando Magic hits ten or more 3-pointers, fans get a free honey butter chicken biscuit as part of the chain’s “Magic Mornings” giveaway. In a unique promotion with the Cleveland Browns, fans could tune into the Wendy's Game Day Weather Report each game day to score a free in-app offer: depending on the temperature at kickoff, a small Frosty (on hot days) or a small chili (on cold ones) at participating Wendy's outlets the next day.

As QSR brands score big with these types of promotions/giveaways, what other categories are poised to follow suit? Forty brands in fintech are already utilizing promotions–led by Coinbase, which partners with social media influencers, athletes, and models in 70% of such deals. Brands in the Daily Fantasy Sports/Betting Services category are poised to grow this asset: in the past year, only five of these brands activated promotion/sweepstakes partnerships within major US pro sports–led by DraftKings, which offered different team- and league-specific promotion codes for free or discounted bets.

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